The Government is working on a policy document aimed at turning round the gains of Small Micro Enterprises (SMEs) in the country, the Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives (CS), Peter Munya has said.
Speaking in Machakos during a trade exhibition hosted by the Masaku SMEs Association on Friday, Munya said the plan will also ensure the informal sector is transformed into an employment platform for hundreds of youths who are seeking for paid up employment in the country.
The CS noted that with 80 per cent of Kenyans working in the informal sector, there was need for concerted efforts to boost the ease of doing business for small business to enable them become more profitable and attractive.
“We are in the final phase of drafting a policy document to look into the challenges affecting SMEs in the country to make them ready avenues for job creation. From next week we intend to go round the country meeting SMEs owners to discuss their challenges and find solutions to them,” he said.
In addition, the government is looking into the possibilities of reviewing taxes being levied on small businesses that have been blamed for scaring away many upcoming entrepreneurs.
Munya said there was need to review some of the business permits and levies charged on SMEs and see whether some can be done away with, to allow businesses make profits especially during these harsh financial times.
And in regard to funding organized business groups, the CS said the Ministry is currently in the process of launching a revolving fund, where such SMEs can access credit facilities to expand their business and pay them at lower interest rates.
He noted that for many years many businessmen have failed to get credit services from commercial banks due to the stringent conditions attached to such loans and it was therefore prudent to step in as a government.
“We want our SMEs to access affordable loans for their business which they can comfortably pay at a small interest rate. Plans are at an advanced stage to ensure the money is soon released to the various groups in the shortest time possible to help them borrow and boost their businesses,” he added.
The money will however be availed to only those who belong to registered groups.
And to revamp the coffee sector, Munya revealed that the State has already released Sh.5 billion through the Cherry Advance fund to help farmers boost production and turn the fortunes of the once profitable sector into its former glory.
The move follows the creation of the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (New KPCU) which will from now henceforth manage the coffee sector after the collapse of the former KPCU.
The Cherry Advance will among other things, enable farmers to access 40 per cent proceeds from their production to help them purchase crucial farm inputs ahead of their final pay out.
The coffee sector has been dogged by a myriad of challenges for years due to mismanagement, corruption and an influx of ruthless brokers into the sector forcing many farmers to abandon the crop for more profitable ventures such as dairy and horticultural farming.
By Samuel Maina/Nelius Muthoni